By Neil Patel
Social media marketing is no longer optional for small businesses in 2018.
I see this problem all too often when I’m consulting small business owners. They have this mentality that social media won’t benefit their companies.
“Our customers know who we are, and they know where to find us.”
Does this sound familiar to you? Don’t get me wrong: it’s great that you have established a steady customer base. But using social media to market your small business will help you get more money from your existing customers in addition to acquiring new ones.
Failure to have an effective social media strategy can be detrimental to your small business.
While you may not think your lack of a social media presence is having an impact on you today, it will eventually catch up with you down the road. So don’t wait until it’s too late to get started.
You’ve got to keep up with the latest social media trends and apply them to your small business.
If you’re a small business owner not quite convinced you need to use social media to improve your business, you’ll benefit tremendously from reading this guide.
If you are currently using social media to market your small business but not seeing the results you hoped for, I’ll steer you toward the path to success.
Follow the marketing tips and strategies I’ve outlined in this guide, and you’ll set yourself up for sustainable growth today and in the future.
Create profiles on multiple platforms
“We’re on Facebook.”
I hear this all the time when I’m talking with small business owners about their social media strategies.
If you have a Facebook page for your business, that’s great. You’re headed in the right direction.
But Facebook alone won’t be enough to maximize your reach. You need to establish a presence on as many social platforms as possible.
Here’s a look at the social media channels that small businesses use the most:
As you can see, Facebook leads the way for small businesses.
Less than half of small businesses use Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter to market their brands. Furthermore, less than one-third of owners are taking advantage of LinkedIn and Snapchat.
Before you rush to create a profile on all the channels listed above, it’s important you understand your target market.
For example, LinkedIn is more beneficial to B2B companies. That’s because 80% of leads generated by B2B brands come from LinkedIn.
Let’s say your small business is targeting Generation Z as your primary audience. Well, 71% of Gen Z uses Snapchat at least six times each day. More than half of this generation uses Snapchat over 11 times daily.
But if your small business is trying to generate leads from Baby Boomers, it wouldn’t make sense to prioritize Snapchat.
For the most part, starting with a Facebook profile is a safe bet. With nearly 1.5 billion daily active users, you can assume your target audience has a presence there.
Believe it or not, after all these years, Facebook is still the fastest growing social network. So it’s not going anywhere in the near future.
After you create a Facebook page, you need to determine which other channels are suitable for your brand and marketing strategy. I’d recommend creating a YouTube channel.
The video content you upload to YouTube will be easy to repurpose for your other marketing channels. These videos will give you an excuse to post content on other platforms when you’re running low on ideas, but we’ll talk about that in greater detail shortly.
Define your marketing goals
You can’t just blindly start posting content on social media without some sort of rhyme or reason. Before you do anything else, you need to identify your marketing goals.
These are some of the top goals that small businesses are trying to accomplish with their social media strategies:
While lead generation, brand awareness, and customer engagement are all good reasons to use social media, it doesn’t mean these should be yours.
You may be using social media to provide better customer service or directly drive sales.
Whatever your reasons, make sure they are clearly defined. Think of it as you would of any other marketing strategy for your company.
You wouldn’t run an ad on the radio or a print advertisement without establishing a goal first, so you need to treat your social media strategy the same way.
Once you decide the purpose of your social media campaigns, it will be much easier for you to come up with content to post. As we’ll discuss soon, it can be tough to think of ideas for new posts.
But if you can establish what you want to accomplish with your content, you’ll know what to post to achieve those goals.
Post content on a daily basis
Now that you have a social media profile on multiple platforms, you’ve got to make sure those accounts are active.
If someone stumbles upon one of your pages and the most recent post was from three weeks ago, they aren’t going to follow you. What’s the point of following a brand that doesn’t post content?
Furthermore, think about all the people already following your business page.
These people won’t just navigate to that page on their own to see what you’re up to. You need to post new content that will appear on their homepages and timelines.
Let’s take a look at how frequently small businesses are posting on social media:
As you can see from this graph, just over half of small businesses post on a daily basis.
This is your opportunity to stand out from your competitors. If your competition is only posting once a week or just a handful of times per month, it will be easier for you to make a lasting impression on your followers by posting daily.
Each time you post new content, you remind your followers that your brand exists.
When they need or want whatever you’re offering, they’ll think of your company as opposed to another small business in the area.
One of the reasons why small businesses aren’t posting content daily is because they simply don’t know what to post. If you fall into this category, refer back to your marketing goals.
For example, if your goal is to promote new products for sale on your ecommerce site, then post a promotional offer for those products.
Repurpose previously published content. I briefly mentioned this earlier when we discussed why you should create a YouTube channel.
Let’s say you have an instructional guide or tutorial on how to use a product that you published to your YouTube page. You can post that same video or snippets of that video to your other distribution channels.
Share new content from your website. Post links to your most recently published posts.
In addition to posting content daily, it’s also important for you to respond to your customers. I’m referring to direct messages as well as comments.
48% of consumers say that when a company is responsive on social media, it will prompt them to make a purchase.
Give consumers a reason to follow you
In order to have a successful social media marketing strategy for your small business, you need to have lots of followers. Otherwise, nobody is going to see your content.
Once you’re able to grow your social following, it will be easier for you to convert your followers into customers.
That’s because consumers are more likely to buy from brands they follow on social media.
Here are some of the top reasons why people would be interested in following your small business on social media:
- they’re curious about your products or services
- you offer exclusive promotions
- your content is entertaining
- they need to reach a customer service representative
- you offered an incentive
- their friends or family follow your brand
So make sure your content is worth following. As you’ve seen, getting more followers will ultimately increase your chances of driving more sales.
Run a contest. Promote flash sales and discounts.
Just don’t post too many promotions, or it will cause people to unfollow you. In fact, 46% of consumers say they’ll unfollow brands that post too much promotional content.
There is a difference between posting daily and spamming your followers.
People don’t just want to see posts from your brand. If you’re posting several times per day, these posts will flood the timelines and homepages of your followers. Nobody wants to see that.
If you want to post content multiple times per day, consider sharing ephemeral content, which we’ll discuss in greater detail shortly.
Form relationships with social influencers
What if I told you there was a way for you to increase your social media presence without posting any content to your page?
Well, as I’m sure you were able to guess, this is definitely a possibility.
When people think of social influencers, they think of celebrities and athletes. But partnering with a celebrity probably won’t fit within the marketing budget of a small business.
However, influencer marketing is the fastest growing method for customer acquisition in the digital world.
Furthermore, 67% of brands are planning to increase their influencer marketing budget within the next year.
So how can a small business afford to implement a strategy like this? You can find social influencers who are much more cost-efficient than a celebrity.
Try partnering with micro influencers to increase your product credibility.
This type of influencer may not have millions of followers, but you can get them to post content about your brand for a few hundred dollars. You may even be able to get away with offering just offering them free products in exchange for a post about your brand.
This strategy is effective because micro influencers have stronger engagement metrics with their followers. That’s because they are just regular people.
An average citizen can’t relate to the lives of Kanye West and the Kardashians. But they can definitely relate to someone who has a regular job.
Consider searching for social influencers who live within the area or region of your small business. It’s more likely that their followers will be interested in supporting your brand.
Implement automation tools
I know what you’re thinking. Everything that we discussed so far sounds extremely time-consuming.
As a small business owner, you need to wear multiple hats throughout the day. Depending on the size of your business, you might be handling the majority of the company’s responsibilities.
Becoming a social media content manager wasn’t something you planned for, and it might feel as if there aren’t enough hours in the day for you to handle this.
Plus, hiring someone to take on these tasks can be expensive. That may not be something that your business can afford right now.
Fortunately, automation resources will solve this problem for you. Check out my favorite time saving social media marketing tools.
Using an automation platform will allow you to schedule your posts in advance. You can take time once at the beginning of your week to set the dates and times for your posts in the future.
Another benefit of using an automation tool is the ability to respond to messages in a timely fashion.
Rather than having to check each social platform individually for these messages, you can find software that sends all messages to one inbox. Then you can reply directly from the software.
I highly recommend these tools for small business owners who feel they don’t have enough time to effectively manage their social media profiles.
Don’t let that impair your marketing strategy.
Encourage user-generated content
This connects to my discussion about the type of content you should be posting.
You can’t go wrong by sharing content that encourages UGC.
As you can see from these numbers, user-generated content has a direct correlation with the consumer buying decision.
UGC will also help you build brand awareness. Here’s why.
Let’s say you run a contest on Instagram where participants have to post pictures featuring them using one of your products.
Your small business just got exposed to a wider audience. Anyone who follows people who enter the contest will see your brand being promoted, even if those people don’t follow you.
A whopping 92% of consumers say they trust a referral if it comes from someone they know.
UGC is a great way for you to get more followers and ultimately turn those new followers into buyers.
Take advantage of ephemeral content
Ephemeral content is different from a regular post. This type of content is only displayed for a short period of time, such as 24 hours.
The most common places where you’ll find ephemeral content for social media is on Instagram and Snapchat. Both of these platforms have a “story” feature.
I highly recommend using an Instagram story to promote your business.
I briefly mentioned this earlier when discussing how frequently you should post content.
If you want to post several times per day, do it on your story. This won’t spam the timelines of your followers.
If you haven’t used ephemeral content just yet, give it a try in your next promotion to see how it goes.
Broadcast live video streams
Small businesses can also benefit from broadcasting live video content on social media platforms.
Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram all have options to do this.
Just take a look at some of these statistics about Facebook Live:
Basically, your live stream will boost your engagement metrics. It will also give you a more authentic interaction with your audience.
You can use your live broadcast in many different ways. But one of my favorites for small businesses is a behind the scenes look.
Show your followers what happens behind closed doors at your business. Give them a tour of your production facility, office, and introduce them to your staff.
This will make them feel as if they are seeing something that’s exclusive and ultimately bring them closer to your brand.
Live video is also a great distribution method for product demonstrations, events, or Q&A sessions.
Your live audience will be able to comment on your stream in real time. Make sure you acknowledge those comments and respond to your followers.
Your small business needs to use social media to stay relevant in today’s day and age.
Just having a Facebook profile alone is no longer acceptable if you want to maximize your social media marketing proficiency.
Create profiles on multiple platforms as long as your target audience is active on those channels.
You need to post content on a regular basis. Just make sure your posts are all related to your clearly established marketing goals.
Your profiles need to be appealing to consumers. Run campaigns designed to get more followers.
To further extend your reach, find social influencers to promote your business. Encourage user-generated content.
Add ephemeral content and live broadcasts to your social media marketing strategy.
If you don’t have time to manage all your social media pages, consider using automation tools to make your life easier.
Follow the advice I’ve outlined in this guide, and it will bring the social media marketing strategy of your small business to the next level.
How is your small business leveraging social media to increase brand awareness and drive sales?